One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
[John 6:8-14 NKJV]
I am a little overwhelmed by the many aspects of Jesus’ ministry and the truth of our Lord that can be seen in these few verses — more of them than can be adequately described in this short study.
Appropriately it was Andrew (whose name means ‘manly’) who found the ‘lad who has five barley loaves and two fishes’ and Jesus asked Andrew to make sure that everyone was seated, for ‘There was much grass in the place’. This means not only that it was comfortable to sit in, but also it was a place of life, of growth and regeneration in what still is a notably dry land.
In the distribution of the loaves and fishes we see that Jesus gave thanks for that food and passed it to the disciples to give to the assembled multitude. This is exactly the way that the word of God comes to us in the first instance until we are able to hear directly from Jesus (The Holy Spirit) for ourselves. But before that we need to be discipled — disciplined in the Spirit — in knowledge and understanding.
The loaves are surely ‘the bread of heaven’; the provision of the Lord for His people. Indeed later on in this chapter, in verse 51, Jesus is quoted as saying “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” There are five loaves, which speak of God’s grace, which He bestows abundantly ...
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
[Titus 3:5-6 NKJV]
Jesus’ concern was that the remains of this amazing and abundant provision should not be scattered to the elements and wasted, but ‘that nothing is lost’. That leads us to Isaiah 55 where we are told in verse 11, ‘ So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.’ Nothing that The Lord accomplishes is ever lost, and the fact that the Disciples gathered 12 baskets of fragments testifies not only to the abundance of the miracle but to Isaiah’s prophecy that ‘the government shall be upon His shoulders’ — again, that Jesus is who He says He is.
Another translation of ‘lost’ is ‘perish’; so we can see that gathering the fragments is an aspect of the Lord’s desire that ‘none should perish’; or to turn that around, that all should be saved.
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
[John 3:15 NKJV]
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
[2 Peter 3:9 NKJV]
Which leaves us to consider the message in the ‘two small fish’. When we see ‘two’ mentioned, we know that there is a witness, a confirmation, a testimony. These fish most likely were caught in The Sea of Galilee, which Jesus had just crossed. It seems likely that they testify to Jesus Himself, that in His abundant provision as ‘The Bread of Heaven’, He also brings Salvation and Redemption ... so that nothing is lost.
Never blink facts because they don’t agree with your theory.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART